“Ss. Peter and Paul’s Catechists’ Bible Training School”, Yangon Archdiocese

“Ss. Peter and Paul’s Catechists’ Bible Training School”, Yangon Archdiocese

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"Today, too, the Spirit is calling men and women to set out and encounter all those who are waiting to discover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Christian faith."
Francis, Motu Proprio Antiquum ministerium, 2021, 10 May

The St. Peter and Paul Catechist Training Center in the Archdiocese of Yangon, Myanmar, opened its new academic year on June 1, 2022. There are 19 students participating in the Center this year, 15 new students and four who need to complete the two-year course.

Formation Team and Staff

The Center consists of an eight-member team for the entire training program. To evaluate the training plan, and specific program content, trainers and staff meet once a month. Training includes four clearly delineated areas: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral.

The formation program has four sections: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral

Human Formation

In fostering the integral growth of the candidates, human relationship among the members of the community are encouraged. Daily activities included Liturgy, general maintenance and are coordinated by different service groups headed by an appointed office bearers. The students have opportunities to organize and participate in community activities.

Intellectual formation

Because students come from different dioceses and have different levels of education, some of them find it difficult to take courses because they have little knowledge of the official Burmese language. Other courses include gaining basic knowledge of the Bible, sacraments, catechism, the Magisterium of the Church and liturgical music. Students have the opportunity to attend workshops and seminars on various topics: on health, leadership, peace building, AsIPAIPA (Asian Integral Pastoral Approach)[1], biblical apostolate, catechism-teaching method.

The main subjects taught include the Old Testament and New Testaments, Catechism, Liturgy and Church History. Minor subjects are Music and Hymns, Spirituality for Catechists, Personal Growth, Social Communication and Medical Knowledge.

Exams were held twice, once in September and once in March..

Spiritual Formation

To foster and deepen their spiritual life, students participate in morning prayers, meditation, Holy Mass and evening recitation of the rosary; adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, night prayer; spiritual retreats are held every Saturday and Lectio Divina every Thursday.

On Sunday, students can engage in pastoral-missionary activities in St. Peter and Paul Parish, animating and preparing children and youth for catechism.

A monthly retreat is held on the second Saturday of the month and students are offered spiritual direction.

Pastoral formation

Students have an opportunity to learn principles and techniques relevant to the ministry of teaching and leading the people entrusted to their care. During the Christmas season last year (2021), pastoral activities were held in a village in Bago parish, including singing, concerts, plays, and dances typical of the Karen people.

To gain pastoral experience, during the summer the students were sent to some parishes to catechise and prepare children and youth for First Holy Communion and Confirmation as well as to learn and practice the Karen language.

Unfortunately, during the year 2021 this was not possible due to COVID 19.

Once the two-year training period is over, the trainees continue with some vocational courses over a span of a few months. These include learning English, sewing, nursing, and driving,. This is to make their service correspond better to the needs of their home dioceses and parishes.

Activities of Catechists

Catechists are divided in two groups: Full-Time and as Part-Time Catechists. The Archdiocese of Yangon has 107 catechists.  After finishing their two-year degree and receiving their diploma, the Catechists, return to their respective parishes to begin their pastoral service, beginning with Part-Time service. After three years and another period of preparation, they can advance to full-time service. The internship period requires a minimum of six months of training, which will involve primarily intellectual and spiritual subjects.

With a solemn Eucharistic celebration, they reach the status of catechists by dedicating their whole lives to the service of God and the Church.

The Activities of Catechists are:

  • Teaching Catechism to children, youth and adults.
  • Celebrating para-liturgy in the absence of priest, and preaching Gospel.
  • Preparing the young and adults for the sacraments of baptism, communion, Marriage, Etc.
  • Leading the communities of the faithful in rural places and taking care of their Faith, Education, Health, Family, and social affairs.

During the Covid-19 pandemic and the military coup of 2021, most catechists became promoters of peace and justice, heralds of love and forgiveness. Bearers of consolation and help to the needy. Solidarity is alive among catechists and they have shared this all with those most in need.

All catechists live their lives in the presence of God and serve Him and His people with joy,

Fr. Jerome Win Shwe Kyi, Rector of Catholic Bible Training School, Insein, Yangon

 

[1] Training programmes on international and national level (for pastoral leaders, priests and lay people) with exposure to BCCs have proved to be effective tools to see the vision and to acquire the skills needed in a Participatory Church (e.g. new leadership style, Gospel based communities, participative formation programmes). To date, there are four series of materials with specific objectives that will assist the facilitators and the participants in a training course: These AsIPA texts are compiled by trainers who are involved at the grassroots level. They can be used for small communities, for neighborhood groups and even for sessions with larger groups in a parish hall. They are prepared as a guide for a participatory process and compiled in such a way that with minimum preparation, a facilitator can use them following the instructions in the text. AsIPA texts have been translated into more than 15 Asian languages.

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